(1090 The Fan) — Branden Troock scored two goals and Alexander Delnov provided four points to carry Seattle to a 5-2 win over Tri-City before 5,026 at the ShoWare Center, Tuesday.
Three nights after seeing their 8-game win streak come to a halt in Portland, the Thunderbirds went into their Christmas break back on the winning side.
“It was a good effort,” said Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “I thought Tri-Cities came out really hard like I figured they would…we got physically involved and I thought we started wearing down their team a little bit.
“I thought (Danny) Mumaugh was really sharp, especially early on when they made a push.”
Seattle (21-10-1-3) got off to a fast start thanks to Delnov. The 19-year-old Russian scored after he corralled a loose puck in the slot at 5:06 in the first period. He then assisted on Ryan Gropp’s goal which gave the T-Birds a 2-0 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the period.
Tri-City (17-16-1-2) would cut into that lead with just over a minute left when Brandon Carlo beat Mumaugh for his second goal of the season. Despite that late first period tally from the Americans, Mumaugh once again was solid in net for Seattle as alluded to by his head coach. The 17-year-old goalie provided 30 saves on 32 shots.
The second period saw missed opportunities for both sides as the two teams played an aggressive offensive brand of hockey. Each team had a couple breakaway attempts within the first six minutes that were denied by the goaltenders. It wasn’t until Shea Theodore scored his 13th goal of the season at 17:52 that either team added a marker to the score.
The T-Birds then built on their 3-1 lead in the third period thanks to Troock’s two goals, the first coming 9:10 into the period and the latter 14:54 in. Sandwiched in between there was an Americans’ power-play goal from forward Braden Purtill, who fired a slapshot top shelf past Mumaugh to cut Seattle’s lead to 4-2 at 14:35.
It was the third win over the Americans this season for Seattle and the second in the past eight days. The victory also came despite Seattle remaining short-handed with leading-scorer Roberts Lipsbergs off in Poland with his Latvia junior team and rookie forward Mathew Barzal still sidelined with an upper-body injury.
Coach Konowalchuk knows his team can still compete despite missing some key pieces.
“You know what, we have guys hurt and we would like to have everybody in the lineup, but we still have some good hockey players,” Konowalchuk said and he reeled off the names of Troock, Delnov, Theodore and Gropp. “There’s veteran guys there still in that lineup so as long as they work as hard as they can, you figure it will make up for the difference of missing a couple guys.”
Troock in particular, has stood out as Seattle has made its run back into the thick of the WHL Western Conference race. Through his last 14 games dating back to November 15th, Troock has scored 12 goals and delivered 13 assists. Coach Konowalchuk thinks the forward’s hard work in practice has been instrumental in his run.
“He’s working hard in practice (and) he’s carrying it to the games,” Konowalchuk said. “He’s become more of a complete hockey player. I think in the past he tried to do too much and it’s counter-productive. But right now he’s taking what’s there and I think some of the success, it builds a little confidence.”
Confidence, something Troock and the rest of this T-Birds team seem to have a lot of right now as they conclude the first of half.
1. SEA Alexander Delnov (16), 5:06
2. SEA Ryan Gropp (5) (Troock, Delnov), 12:54
3. TC Brandon Carlo (2) (Purtill, Gutierrez), 18:59
4. SEA Shea Theodore (13) (Swenson, Hickman), 17:52
5. SEA Branden Troock (16) (Henry, Delnov), 9:10
6. TC Braden Purtill (4) (Rankin, Wotherspoon), 14:35 (PP)
7. SEA Branden Troock (17) (Delnov), 14:54
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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